Israel cuts fishing area off Gaza coast in response to rocket launch

Israeli army flares illuminate the sky above the Gaza Strip on July 18. After waging an air campaign initially, Israel has sent ground troops into the territory.

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Israel cut its fishing area Tuesday to allow fishermen off the embankment of the Gaza Strip to respond to a rocket-propelled grenade fired at Israel, officials said.

Gaza fishermen will be able to travel up to 6 mph (11 km) only after Israel expanded the area on 1 April and allowed access to 15 nautical miles (28 km).

The Israeli Defense Ministry unit, which oversees the crossings, said access to the new area would remain in effect “until further notice.”

According to the unit, the decision came after the launch of a rocket shell from Gaza on Monday evening.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the shell landed in the Mediterranean Sea a few kilometers off the Israeli coast.

A source in the Israeli army, the Islamic Jihad movement affiliated with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was responsible for launching the shell from northern Gaza.

The source said that in recent weeks Islamic Jihad had taken “measures to harm” efforts to maintain a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

He added that the Israeli army believes that the Islamic Jihad is trying to escalate in response to orders from its leadership abroad and without coordination with Hamas.

But the military source stressed, however, that “we still consider Hamas responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip.”

On April 1, Israel expanded fishing area off the Gaza Strip, which is bound to 15 nautical miles, the largest area that fishermen have allowed access to in years. This area is 20 nautical miles less than the Oslo agreement of the 1990s.

Hamas said at the time that the decision was part of what it called “understandings” with the Jewish state, to prevent the outbreak of conflict before the general elections that took place on the ninth of April.

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